Players can find the idea of playing poker in a cardroom nerve-wracking, particularly if they are more used to attending home games or visiting online poker rooms. It is true that there are systems in place that you have to learn, and poker etiquette that must be observed, but in reality they are exciting and fun places to play a few hands of poker.
Many major casinos offer cash games and tournaments on a regular basis, in addition to dedicated poker clubs running games across the country. There are also regular poker nights in pubs and social clubs. You can find a nearby game at the poker reviews section of gamble.co.uk, where you will discover information on when the games are played as well as the contact details for the venue.
For beginners, the most important point to note is that the staff members at a poker cardroom are there to help. If you have any questions or worries, they can provide a clear, precise and professional answer. It is their job to do so. The smooth running of the cardroom is in their best interests so they will be happy to advise you, and it is worth remembering there is no such thing as a stupid question - if you don’t know, just ask!
You won’t be thrown onto a table filled with grizzled sharks looking to gobble up some fresh fish. Most cardrooms will provide a range of games, from those suitable for the wet-behind-the-ears player to the big-money tables reserved for high rollers.
It is sometimes possible to hire tables in casinos for a special occasion and have one of the fully-trained dealers talk your party through the finer points of playing poker. Many also run lessons for beginners and masterclasses for more advanced players, which are both great ways to improve your game and get you used to the environment of the cardroom.
Find the cardroom in the venue and put your name on the waiting list for a table. The host will ask you about the type of game you fancy playing and your desired stakes and will seat you once a place becomes available. It is sometimes possible to ring in advance and have your name added to the list, which is handy when the venue gets busy.
You can ask the host or floor manager about the different types of games and they will tell you whether you need to exchange your cash for chips in advance or whether it is possible to procure them from the dealer at the table. While you are waiting, take the opportunity to read the casino’s rules as they will be unique to that room. You can also observe what is happening on the tables, which will help you get up to speed much quicker.
When you are taken to the table, you will be able to order drinks from the waiting staff to consume while you play. Make sure you don’t place your glass on the felt; you will usually be provided with a table on which to rest it. It is also advisable to limit your alcohol intake, as it can impair your decision-making abilities and you will need those for the game!
Once seated, you should wait for the big blind to reach you before you jump into the game. This gives you time to observe what is happening on that table, getting a feel for how it works and checking out your competition as well. When placing a bet, make sure you don’t throw your chips towards the centre, but rather push them in front of you, allowing the dealer to add them to the pot.
Place your cards face down in front of you with a chip on the top to show you are still in the game and to protect them from other cards flying around the table. Having the cards on display in front of your chips shows you are still in the game; otherwise, they could be scooped up by mistake and your hand would be declared dead.
It is good form to say out loud whether you are checking, calling, raising or folding so that everyone knows for sure what action you are taking. Leaving it to hand gestures or facial expressions leaves you open to misinterpretation and can cause confusion and delays in the game. You will find that some cardrooms take a verbal statement of your intention to be binding, so make sure you have properly considered your move before you reveal it.
You need to concentrate so you don’t slow down the game too much or annoy your fellow players by being unprepared. Always have an eye on whose turn it is, even if you are concentrating hard on your own strategy. It also pays to know who still has a live hand so you don’t toss your cards away, thinking you’ve won, only to let an opponent take the pot by default because they are the last player standing. Once the pot is pushed your way, then you can dispense with the cards, not before.
Needless to say that collusion with other players, cheating in general, verbally or physically threatening others and interfering with the cards are all classed as cardroom no-nos.
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